Postcards for Political Prisoners 

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Concept of Treadmill, 2021

Ai Weiwei designed a postcard in early 2021 to submit to Firstsite’ project “The Great Big Art Exhibition”, and the work was turned down. The image of the postcard is a treadmill, the object sent to the artist by Julian Assange in October 2016 when Assange was taking refuge in the Embassy of Ecuador in London. He was later forcefully taken by the British authorities in April 2019 and is still incarcerated in the UK.

The concept originated from “Yours Truly”, a postcard writing component of the exhibition @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz in 2014. Visitors were invited to compose messages of hope to political prisoners whose plight was highlighted in the exhibition.

Peter Benenson, the Founder of Amnesty International, once said, “it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” To implement the concept of creating a postcard and sending it to prisoners of conscience globally, a list of names and addresses of the political prisoners, most of which come from Amnesty International, is provided.